Today, on the last Monday in May, Americans honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the military.

In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union war veterans, chose May 30 as Decoration Day, a day for the nation to decorate the graves of war dead with flowers. In the years to come, communities held formal Decoration Day ceremonies to commemorate those who had died during the Civil War, whether they fought for the Union or the Confederacy.

After World War I, people honored those who had died in all wars, not just the Civil War. In 1971 Congress passed a law making Memorial Day a legal holiday. For more information on Memorial Day, visit the Veterans Department web site.

Please take a moment from your day to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

As we honor those who have died, we must also remember their families. Their parents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, sons and daughters, for they also serve and have sacrificed. Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.